Covid life: How to parent when you have no answers for them

Amanda Cassidy

Kevin Dundon’s courgette and feta pasta salad

IMAGE

Concerns raised over possible link between Covid-19 and four stillbirths in Ireland

Lauren Heskin

Not sure what to make tonight? Try one these delicious dinner recipes

IMAGE

3 unusual period properties for sale in Ireland for under €200,000

Lauren Heskin

‘Please stop asking women about their weight’: Nicola Coughlan rightfully hits back at body shaming...

Jennifer McShane

‘At the age of 33, I left my career and decided it was time to...

Caitlin McBride

This Victorian Rathmines home with sleek extension is on the market for €3.1 million

Megan Burns

6 brilliant books to put on your reading lists for 2021

Jennifer McShane

Image / Editorial

Girls Should “Stop Playing With Barbies And Be Given Lego Instead”


by Jennifer McShane
12th Sep 2015

Girls are still being put off science and engineering, and this all starts in early childhood with “sexist toys and attitudes”, according to one female British scientist.

Barbie dolls rather than chemistry sets are being pushed at young girls who find it difficult to follow an educational path towards a career in science, said Dame Athene Donald, professor of experimental physics at Cambridge University. She suggested that girls “should stop playing with Barbies and be given Lego or Meccano” instead, in to prevent this from happening. According to The Telegraph, the professor also added that toys for little girls were dominated by themes of “love and magic,” which reinforced gender stereotypes.

?We need to change the way we think about boys and girls and what’s appropriate for them from a very early age. Does the choice of toys matter? I believe it does,? Dame Athene said.

ICYMI: Boy Chooses Barbie Doll As Toy, His Dad’s Reaction Is Amazing

?We introduce social constructs by stereotyping what boys and girls receive from the earliest age. Girls? toys are typically liable to lead to passivity – combing the hair of Barbie, for instance – not building, imaging or being creative with Lego or Meccano,? she said. ?I’m sure it’s not only down to that, but it can’t help. If a girl has never been given the opportunity to take things apart or play with a chemistry set, it must influence them,? she added.

Her theory does have merit behind it. A study done in 2013 found that both sexes are still being held back in their careers by outdated stereotypes. The Worldpay Zinc survey questioned 2,000 people on attitudes in the workplace and revealed that many thought certain jobs should only be filled by men, and some only by women. Two-thirds of those surveyed thought men make better mechanics, electricians and plumbers than women, and 64 percent said they would rather buy flowers from a female florist.

Athene explained that gender stereotyping can start at an early age, which can foster that attitude that science is for boys, not girls. She said that only a fifth of A-level students were opting to go into the science field and that the lack of females in the sector could be improved if parents’ mindsets were changed.

While some of Athene’s comments ring true, to restrict either gender from their choice of a toy isn’t healthy either. We’re all for combatting stereotyping (and we’re definitely all for more female scientists), but at the end of the day, what if it makes your daughter happy to play with a Barbie, rather than Lego? Surely we shouldn’t deprive our children of their toy of choice, and instead of pushing them to choose one over the other, we should simply encourage them to freely make their choices, based on what would give them the most enjoyment? On the other hand, to solely market chemistry sets for boys is definitely reinforcing a negative stereotype,?which should be stopped.

Her comments are timely as the topic of gender stereotyping, particularly when it comes to children’s toys, is currently being addressed by retailers in the US. Big chains such as Wal-Mart and Target announced their intentions to eliminate gender labels from all their children’s toys and bedding, so families didn’t feel “frustrated or limited by the way things are presented.?

At the end of they day, regardless of which toy your child decides to play with, surely the most important thing that matters is that they are happy? It might be enough to know that by letting?them play with all toys (regardless of their gender aim), you can rest easy knowing?that these toys?are simply fuelling their active and creative imaginations.

Also Read

EDITORIAL
Why Harry and Meghan were dead right to walk away

By Amanda Cassidy

essay collections
EDITORIAL
6 brilliant essay collections for when you can’t commit to a whole book

Time these days is a contradiction.  Slow-moving, yet somehow passing...

By Jennifer McShane

Christmas cost
EDITORIAL
What I Spend at Christmas: The 37-year-old digital marketer earning €25k who isn’t buying presents for her siblings

Christmas cost the average Irish family €2,700 over the festive...

By IMAGE

Christmas trifle
EDITORIAL
Avoca has shared the recipe for their decadent Christmas trifle and we’re digging in

No festive spread is complete without a traditional Christmas trifle...

By IMAGE

deal with grief
EDITORIAL
6 books, plays and podcasts to help you deal with grief

Death is a natural part of life, yet there’s no...

By Grace McGettigan

EDITORIAL
‘Watching the Christmas shopping rush, it’s easy to feel like if you aren’t spoiling your kids, you’re doing it wrong’

I will not get caught up in the Christmas drama....

By Amanda Cassidy

EDITORIAL
Eclipsed: The powerful, all-female play exposing a Magdalene Laundry you need to see

‘Eclipsed’ director Kate Canning told Jennifer McShane of the challenges...

By Jennifer McShane

Has society become more tolerant of the idea of dating interracially?
premium IMAGE WRITES, REAL-LIFE STORIES, RELATIONSHIPS
Interracial dating: “People kept asking ‘where is she from?'”

With diversity on the rise, what struggles do interracial couples continue to face today? Filomena Kaguako speaks to three couples about their experiences.

By Filomena Kaguako